SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An effort from Sanford Health is now utilizing mouth guards to take a closer look at impacts to a football player’s head; 13 South Dakota Junior Football players are going to be fit with accelerometers and gyroscopes.
Ryan Ehlers of Sioux Falls is like a lot of people across the country.
“He’s a huge football fan, we love to watch football on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays,” Ryan’s dad Mike Ehlers said. “We go watch the Jackrabbits on Saturdays. So, we’re very big into football.”
Ryan is one of the 13 players who will wear the special mouthguard.
“His mom and I certainly have concerns about the physicality of the sport, and when we found out about this study we were certainly excited to check it out,” Mike Ehlers said.
“This year we’re using instrumented mouth guards to measure head impacts of players during the season, and tonight we’re scanning the players’ mouths,” Sanford Health research scientist Thayne Munce said.
Munce’s work involves youth football.
“What we’re able to do is produce custom-fit mouth guards for the players to wear during every practice and game throughout the season,” Munce said.
The mouth guards will be able to gather different pieces of data.
“They can measure every time the head gets hit, how many times they get hit and how hard they get hit,” Munce said.
That information can then be processed to find out how the game and impacts to the head are linked.
“We’ve been doing head impact research with youth football for the past decade,” Munce said. “So we compile and aggregate all the data, so we can see how many times the typical player gets hit in the head over the course of the season, in every single game and in every single practice. And we try and understand what aspects of play are related to those head impacts.”
Data collection from the players’ mouth guards will start this month.